When we arrived in Egypt we had been traveling for a very long time. I think we were about 14 days into the trip. We had been to Paris and Venice and it was not our first time to either, so we felt at ease in both locations.
That was not the case with Egypt.
Of all the places I have ever visited, Egypt is the one that felt the most like I was in a foreign country. It seemed like everything was odd. Simple things seemed different. I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but I will try.
In the United States we throw trash in a garbage can and a truck comes and gets that, and a bigger truck goes to get that, etc. I don’t even know where it ends up, but it is handled by some type of system larger than I care to think about. Its just the normal way it works here. In Egypt, they don’t handle the trash at all. If you used it, you dropped it when you were done with it. It laid there until it rotted, someone else wanted it or it got covered over with some more trash. I know, it’s a “third world country” everyone keeps telling me. But somehow in my brain I didn’t expect the trash to be like it was. I hate this hotel !
I feel spoiled by our systems. I feel blessed, but also spoiled. I love the magic system that makes old crap go away in the United States. (Yes, I know, I know, we pay for this and we make entirely too much trash but that’s not the topic of this post.) Anyway, it took a minute to get used to what in my head was one, or probably the most amazing places that I have ever been, having so much trash to wade through. How can the world let Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza, the most amazingly, spectacular place left from an ancient civilization just become a trash collection site? It stumps me.
It got me to thinking about home. I started to think of how many times people have came to our area in West Virginia and shook their heads at the crap that people toss out their car windows onto the side of the road. It really makes me angry at my neighbors.
We live in some of the most amazing mountains. The trees are beautiful and green and when you go away from here for a while you really start to need to smell the leaves again and feel dirt and rocks under your feet. I hate concrete worlds. I dream of living in Paris or Venice but so help me, I fear I may miss my mountains.
The night that we arrived in Egypt, it was late. Like 4 in the morning. So, all the things that felt so different stood out more than they would have had we seen them for the first time at say noon, with the lights on. Had we been on our own for the trip, without our guides, I really think I would have ended up spending the whole time in my room. Except, my room was so damn dirty that I couldn’t wait to go someplace else. It was a catch-22. I was afraid to go outside and inside I didn’t want to sit down anyplace.
It sounds like I didn’t have a good time at all but so help me I am so happy that I had this experience in my life. I am sure that I will always think of this trip to Egypt and be more thankful for the simple things that I am blessed to have in my life. Today is Monday. On Mondays the magic truck comes to my house and whisks away the crap that I needed to get rid of and I never see it again. Did I say that I love that?
I guess this journaling has become about the things that I didn’t like instead of about the things that I did. Sometimes those things are worth remembering too, I suppose.
While bitching, I guess I should note the man that came to let us in when we arrived at 4 am to our hotel. We were with a guy who we didn’t know for sure wasn’t going to kill us, so we were already on edge. He turned out to be a sweetie and had he not been with us during the entire trip I would have been scared to death. He is the only person on our entire trip that did not ask us for money. Seriously, if we spoke to a person, we were asked for dollars. And apparently one of our dollars is worth a butt load of money in Egypt. I suck at exchange but when the pizza you have for dinner costs like 125 of whatever their currency is and you look at your statement later to see that they took something like $12.00 out of your account, I am thinking maybe our dollar is worth more there than it is at home.
The gentleman that let us into the huge iron gate that was protecting us or keeping us out is the case, at the moment, stumbled to the door to let us in and started to grab our luggage. We had tons of luggage since we had our costumes from Carnival still with us. He picked up one of the small bags and then yanked the large one from my hand as if to say, “NO, you must let me carry these”. I thought, okay, this is going to be okay. The man who had escorted us from the airport said in his gentle voice to Bil to just go upstairs and make sure that we were okay before he would leave us there. This just scared me even more that this person was scared for me and he actually lived there. I was scared out of my head at this point, but it was four in the morning and I figured it was far safer inside this place than it was out riding around at four in the morning. I hate this hotel.
I should tell you that the little man that let us in was shorter than me. He was wearing exactly what a costume designer in a Hollywood movie would have him wear. A long dress of an outfit and a sorta turban thing on his head, a fabric belt that tied about his waist and hung long on one side. His skin was a beautiful color chocolate and he had a face that I truly will never ever forget. He was wrinkled and worn, and he had a giant spot of some kind on one side of his face. Funny the things you remember when you think you may need to file a police report later.
I usually just carry my own luggage. I am for sure not used to someone taking it forcefully from my hands. By the time I left Egypt I would learn to just give that crap up and dig into my purse for some money because anyone who yanked things from your hands was doing it because in their world if they could knock you down and drag your luggage from your hand then that meant they had provided a service to you and by Gosh you now owe them some money !
The cost…. only $200.00. Yep, no joke. I mean in the end that only meant $5.00 but they always started high when they set their price, I guess that is so that they can force you to negotiate. It reminded me of my ex-husband. That’s his way of negotiating too. He was awesome at this. Me, I just want the sticker on the thing to say how much it costs at the start. If I pull in to your yardsale I don’t know that I want your old shitty yellow flowered dishes until I see the quarter price tag on them. Just tell me how much it is going to cost and be done with it. No negotiating, please.
When the little man got to our room he was the first person we had really had any communication with since arriving in Egypt. He dropped our luggage in our room and pointed at things and showed us the absolutely filthy, crap soiled toilet and showed us the funny little bathtub that was completely covered in streaks of some bodily substance that I have yet to identify and pointed at the extra cover on the beds, which would later become the most valuable commodity in Egypt when I came down with a cold when I woke up freezing to death for the fourth night in a row and a roll of toilet paper that he had placed on a table for us. Then he stuck his hand out and asked for his tip. I think his words were, “Now, You pay me?”
Okay, I just pretended to not understand a word he was saying. Bil would later pay him but at 4 in the morning I was not ready for my lesson in the exchange of Egyptian to American money.
You get the point. It was not the Trump Towers or anything. But, Just before he left the room he said, “Oh, AND….” And I can still remember the sound of his sandy feet as he drug his slippers across the concrete floor a final time. He reached for the curtain and whipped it back in a sorta Vanna White kind of way and there it was…. The reason we had picked this nasty little hotel over the nice big hotels back in Cairo city….the window slid open and, right there, in the yard, just in front of me, not more than 500 feet from my nose, was the Pyramids of Giza. The Great Sphinx was just sitting right there outside the window.
Yes! I so love this hotel and I have decided that I am totally staying here again someday. For 4 days I would use every single spare moment standing right there in that window trying to soak up just a little more of the amazing view. I don’t think I will ever see anything more spectacular than the view out my nasty little hotel window again. Every morning the sound of muslim chants rang out on the hour at like 5 am. In the distance, it sounded exactly like that Hollywood movie we were working on before. The sun came up and cast shadows on the Great Pyramid and you could watch it move further and further up to the peeks. At night the sun would set and it would illuminate them like I had applied just a little too much saturation to the photograph in my head. In the afternoon, the sun would line up with the top of the pyramid almost like they planned it that way 5000 years ago.
This is the best hotel ever !!!